Crew chief finds couple in C-130 engine

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Michael Farris
  • Cope India Public Affairs
Tech. Sgt. J.D. Nix is as country as a split-rail fence along a dirt road. So when the C-130 Hercules crew chief deployed here from Yokota Air Base, Japan, went toe-to-toe with a pair of birds, his animal instinct prevailed.

Two bright green parakeets decided the engine intake on Nix's No. 3 engine would be their new roost during Cope India, a weeklong bilateral airlift exercise with the Indian air force.

"They're really pretty birds," he said. "But, I wish they'd built a nest in a tree like other parakeets."

Nix's troubles began when he came to work in the morning of Oct. 21 to prepare his Herc' for a midday launch. The Styrofoam plastic engine cover was in a hundred little pieces on the tarmac below the engine.

"The birds pecked clear through my engine cover to find a place to spend the night," he said. "I've seen birds build nests in exhausts and different parts of the plane before, but I've never seen them destroy an air intake plug."

These amorous avians were not about to ruffle the feathers of this 15-year crew chief from Yokota's 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. He hatched a concept that would allow his plane and the unwelcome guests to take flight.

Nix wrapped the remainder of the engine plug with reflective aluminum speed-tape hoping the shiny surface would scare them away.

It worked.

The parakeets moved on to more appropriate accommodations and Nix went about prepping his plane to fly.

Nix said he once had a pair of pigeons in Malaysia who were so intent on building a nest in his wing flap, they would wait for the plane to return every evening and start rebuilding their home.

"We inspect the engines prior to cranking them up to make sure there's nothing in there," he said. "No tellin' what you might find on these planes after sitting overnight."

Nix, from Hanging Dog, N.C., holds no grudge against the damaging duo.

"They sit on the props and watch me work," he said. "As long as they keep their distance, we'll get along fine."

Cope India continues through Oct. 25. Nearly 150 Pacific Air Forces airmen are deployed with five C-130s for combined airlift training. While the countries' air forces grow more comfortable working together, Nix remains focused on keeping the birds off his bird. (Courtesy of Pacific Air Forces News Service)